Today has been a wrangling process with this particular post… maybe it’s the topic which has taken me to a ” selah ” time for about two weeks. Having seen dear people I love, know and know of… lose loved ones, or relationships, their lives forever changed has put a “quiet, be still now in my spirit”. Anyone who knows me well, will understand that itself out of character for me to be so “quiet”.
The eyes have seen in our world and culture, I fear too much death, tragedy , and devastation of historical magnitude “right up and personal ” in their home, office, or coffee house peripheries . My concern is around if this will ( does ) lead to a a kind of de-sensitization. I am pondering this.
In the last couple of weeks, via the technology of our day ….great tragedy has been presented in our view on either the internet, on our radios, cable news or in our daily reading about the horrific events in Haiti.
Such magnitude of loss, grief and suffering touches all of us in some way unless one no longer has a heart that can be touched by such events.
Can that be happening too? Concerned for a bit then head down not looking, hearing anymore? Believe me, I know people who are not doing that but unfortunately there are many more things taking center stage and missing what this “shaking ” means for the believer… ( more on that later here )
It became real for us through many who are closely tied to those in and around Haiti. The connections to many ministries are vast and the blogs of the daily suffering that I have read touched me to tears and gratitude for those who are alive giving testimony.
It led me to prayer for the Christians on the ground in the trenches who are in their greatest hour of walking out their faith. It makes me ask myself.. how would I do there? Would I stand in strength? Oh Lord … would I? Someway, I know this is an altar call for the “remnant ” bride of Christ to internally see if we are intimate with Him to be ready.
This great cataclysmic tide of sorrow has rolled in with a reminder of the strengths of people who manage to show a testimony of survival against all odds. For those who prevail …their faith seems to rise amid the seasons of sorrow. For faith is the sustainer of those who reach for Him in the midst of so much pain. ” The Lord is near the brokenhearted and those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
It takes me to a song by Addison Road… “Everything rides on hope now, everything rides on faith somehow… when the world has broken me down, Your love sets me free.” You’ve become my hearts desire, I must sing your praises higher”… Could I sing my praises higher when my family is buried under rubble?
How about if, the only hope in the “camp” is the Bible verse that is my head when all is shaken? Or there is such surreal incoming of events that the mind is swamped. What would I do? I am asking myself that while being in the real company of people who have in a different set of circumstances battled grief, sorrow, loss and shaking all around in another sort of way.
The first time loss really hit my life was on Christmas day during my early childhood when our little dog “Pepper” crawled up on my lap. It was while I was looking at a new gift in the form of a book… he simply died. It shocked and stunned me. At age 4, it broke my heart.
This was a great sadness and came with a sense of betrayal and injustice since I had prayed for Pepper. A tiny dog who had gotten into a scrimmage with a German Shepherd who grabbed him by the neck. My early encounter with deeply talking things over with God grew from this moment.
Walking in farm fields when bringing up the Holstein cows.. much time to talk to the Lord.
There was no shortage of these types of things .. beloved animals that would perish on our dairy farm. Early life lessons about death and the feelings of loss when a cow, lamb, cat or another pet was no longer part of my daily joy. Baby calves who did not make it in the cold winter barns or a favorite cow who was struck by lightening when drinking from a pond. These were events of life on a farm that is based on seasons.
I lost my grandparents and my dearest adopted grandmother whom I deeply loved and held on to the fact they knew the Lord and were in His place now.
Fast forward.. to my early young adulthood. Now a mother of an 18 month old, I get the word ( the dreaded phone call ) that my younger and beloved brother was killed instantly in an accident on a beautiful June day … my parents world blew apart. We traveled quickly home to the family, farm, funeral and the questions that would come.
My question was to God, as I was not sure if my dear brother was saved. My husband and my last conversation with him in our North Carolina home was about Jesus and a candid discussion about Him as Savior but I still did not know.
So I prayed and prayed for God to show me the answer to that question and in His grace and mercy, He did. Two weeks later in the quiet of my home, our little girl had woke up in the middle of the night and I said to God ” Oh please let her go back to sleep because I don’t want to think about Doug ( my brother ) because it hurt so much.
Then it happened the feeling of going into a warm room from a cold one.. it felt like it lasted for a long time and a voice said to me
” Do not let your heart be troubled, he is in a safer place than you can imagine”. I was awake during this time and I woke my husband to ask him if he had heard it.
He had not but I knew that I knew that our Lord in His great mercy and love had told me what I needed to accept my brother’s death. I called my mother and father but my mother instead of being happy to learn this said to me ” why would God tell you and not me”?
Exactly .. because I was desperate for the knowing and I believed Him when He told me. This was my first really true voice of God experience of Him speaking to me audibly. ( I have only had two out loud ones , the rest are to my spirit ).
This grace of this revelation I see now was also preparation for how I would learn to experience a relationship with God in a growing way. When we are weak, He is strong.
Fast forward again to the present where it seems that the walking out of ones faith is evident in the lives of so many around me and yes even the strangers on TV or the blogs posted where believers in Haiti are pouring their hearts out.
For those around me, our dear receptionist at my work ministry has been an incredible testimony of strength in sorrow. For those who have read my blogs.. her mother, ( whom we were praying for ) Dianne went on to be with Jesus on January 8. Not only did she lose her mother but a little over a year ago lost her son to a great tragedy and has fallen on her faith in Jesus Christ to come through these hard times.
It was this “season of sorrow” that has fashioned a great woman of faith. She humbles me. When at her mother’s wake, she absolutely glowed in the peace of the Lord. Not to say there was not sorrow but the triumph of the joy of the Lord being her strength was her countenance, manner and speech. A testimony in an offering of faith in sorrow.
Then there is my friend via email ministry who lost a relationship that was hard to walk away from. She has done it, is doing it and is faith in motion as she daily adjusts to this loss. Strength I can feel through heartache on the pages.
Then there are the children who are healing from abuse, neglect and a childhood of loses who are receiving residential care and treatment in our ministry. The children who get up each day with a smile on their face but not yet in their eyes.. those who long, crave, need to belong to an adult, a family who is just over the moon for who they are.. but they are not in sight. So they are holding on to the Word of God in scripture . Jeremiah 29:11 ” For I know the plans I have for you , not for evil or calamity but a hope and a future…
That they are “fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalm 139 and they slowly transform through childlike strength in seasons of sorrow. They amaze me each day.. these tiny towers of strength wrapped in the arms of staff, with songs of deliverance from Christian radio to be the lullaby in their heads.
One little boy broke my heart this past couple of days as his sadness was enveloping him to a place of despair… not unlike the children anywhere who are suffering. Just a mission field ( stateside ) in my daily life instead on the news or in the lives of missionaries I know. He is floundering in deep sorrow trying to find the inner strength to hold on. We are praying!!
Perhaps one of the best examples of strength amid seasons of sorrow is the life of Corrie Ten Boom who found the strength to be an encourager of her faith in Jesus Christ despite the loss of her sister Betsy and much of her family in Nazi Germany’s death camps. I had just read yesterday her account of the following.
When I was in a concentration camp during World War II, we had to stand every day for two or three hours for roll call, often in the icy-cold wind. Once a woman guard used these hours to demonstrate her cruelty. I could hardly bear to see and hear what happened in front of me.
Suddenly a skylark started to sing high in the sky. We all looked up, and when I looked to the sky and listened to its song, I looked still higher and thought of Psalm 103:11: “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him” (RSV).
Instantly I saw that this love of God was a greater reality than the cruelty I experienced myself and saw around me. “Oh the love of God, how deep and great, far deeper than man’s deepest hate.”
In His mercy, God sent that skylark every day for three weeks, just at the time of roll call, to give us an opportunity to turn away our eyes from the cruelty of men to the ocean of His love.
God’s love is both a protection and a weapon. It guards us against impatience, against bitterness, against gloating. It is also a very strong weapon in the battle to win souls, for it never gives in.
It looks for a way of being constructive, it is glad when truth prevails. Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope: It can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that stands when all else has fallen (see 1 Cor. 13).
Are we being prepared as we journey in this life as a believer to be able to have the strength to tell a suffering world of His great love?
I believe the Lord is crying out to His children in these events to arise and come closer. Coming closer now, daily, deeply is going to make all the difference.
When we are weak He is strong and is its our abiding hope to share with a broken world. Oh Lord help me to grow in you so I maybe a witness.
By Jeremy Camp who has found strength in seasons of sorrow…